A LETTER FROM The Black Solidarity economy fund Working Group and NEC Staff
We’re calling on you to match your values to your dollars by investing in the work, ideas, and spirit of our Black-led member organizations.
Recent elections have once again affirmed the power and consistent progressive vision of the Black community. From Reconstruction through the Civil Rights/Black Liberation Movement, to today’s demand for a radical restructuring of this country’s policies regarding policing, criminal justice, and funding of health and human needs, the tireless work and innovative ideas of Black organizers have proven that another world is possible. Black cooperative economics – particularly efforts led by Black women – have delivered justice, prosperity, and security when it has been systematically denied to Black communities. All this has occurred despite a system that denies Black communities privileged access in the realm of funding, ideas, leadership, and capacity-building.
Black organizers, leaders and activists from NEC member organizations have been taking time and effort to explore how NEC can be a powerful and committed network for countering the historical and persistent imbalance of resources. NEC has not been immune to this racial dichotomy as its structure and membership – consisting largely of white-led organizations – have benefitted from the complex web of systems of privilege and exclusion. Guided by a sincere desire to take immediate concrete steps towards rectifying this inequity, we are now acting to redistribute the power of money and ideas by investing a portion of our budget to support the power of Black-led organizations, organizers, and ideas – which are too often ignored, silenced, and appropriated.
Our first step is committing $25,000 to this effort — and we’re very pleased to share that our commitment has been matched by the Center for Economic Democracy and supported by Beneficial State Foundation, amounting to a total of over $65,000 to date. This is a great start, though it is only a starting point.
The redistribution of our funding to Black-led organizations is an intentional act of reparations at a time when we must acknowledge both how nonprofit organizations benefit from structural racism, and the role we should play in dismantling it. We must reckon with the reality that the organizations that are funded to address challenges impacting Black communities have historically been white-led. This runs against the value of self-determination that is fundamental to the work of building a New Economy. Our collective redistribution works to tilt this power imbalance to rightfully support the self-determination of Black organizers in the decision-making and resource allocation that has direct influence on their communities. Black leaders should lead Black community organizing, especially as the pandemic exacerbates the social and economic injustices that disproportionately impact Black families and workers.
Research has shown that Black workers have experienced layoffs during this pandemic at higher rates than white workers, and Black workers are less likely to be hired when seeking new employment opportunities. When Black workers are able to secure employment, it is often through essential jobs that put them at risk of contracting COVID-19. “Black workers in the U.S. are much more likely to work front line jobs considered essential during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Race and socioeconomic status — or, more simply, power — largely influences who is allowed to shelter in place. During this pandemic, full employment is considered a privilege to which Black and brown people disproportionately do not have access. Working a job that allows you to stay home provides you with safety, security, and health capital that is denied to frontline workers. Mutual aid and collective action will get us through this pandemic; and that mutual aid work includes people who have steady income redistributing what they can to those who are disproportionately impacted by this pandemic.
Racism is not something that just happens. It is intentionally shaped through discriminatory, anti-Black policies that prevent Black communities from achieving financial security and wealth. We do not need to wait for government action in order to begin the process of paying reparations. We can start that healing now.
We are calling on those who consider themselves anti-racist allies to make a meaningful contribution to this campaign. We are calling on wealthy white individuals and non-Black POC who share our vision, nonprofit foundations with large endowments, corporations, and institutions like Harvard and other historic elite universities that were built on the backs of enslaved Africans, and so many more, to return financial resources to the Black communities from which they have been taken by redistributing money to Black-led organizations working toward Black and general liberation.
The intention is for this campaign to grow, expanding its fundraising goal and widening it’s reach. Ultimately, the funds will be distributed in a collective granting process led by Black members in our network for Black-led organizations and members in our network.
The Black NEC Working Group and NEC Staff